PICKING UP THE PIECES
The port side hangar deck was a chaos of activity, as usual. Lee Adama paused for a moment to look around at the scurrying figures in their brightly colored coveralls. He had to be on patrol in a half hour, but his Viper had behaved oddly during his last couple of flights and he wanted the crew chief, Tyrol, to have a look at it. Glancing around, he didn't see Tyrol anywhere, but according to the duty roster, this was his shift. Lee spied a familiar face, although he couldn't quite remember her name. Cami? Or was it Callie? Whichever, he strode over to her and was relieved when she looked up at his approach, sparing him from the possible embarrassment of getting her name wrong while trying to get her attention.
"Where can I find Chief Tyrol?" He asked, after returning the smart salute she offered him.
The young woman looked very nervous.
"Oh, uh, I'm not really sure where he is at the moment, sir. He left the hangar deck a few minutes ago. I'm sure he'll be back shortly. Would you like me to track him down for you, sir?"
"Oh, no, thank you. It's nothing urgent. I can wait for him to return."
Lee wandered away from the girl to allow her to return to her duties. Looking around him, he noticed there was a supply storage room at the rear of the flight deck. Still trying to familiarize himself with the ship and curious about the state of spare Viper parts for the ship, he walked to the storage room and entered. He found himself immediately confronted with the sight of a semi-clad Lt. Valerii and Chief Tyrol locked in a very passionate embrace.
"Uh, sorry," Lee mumbled, embarrassed, as he backed quickly out of the room and shut the door.
Valerii and Tyrol were not the first such trysting couple that he had accidentally walked in on. In fact, it was happening more and more frequently. His father was going to have to make a decision about how to deal with this sort of thing and address his people, soon, before it got out of hand. With a sigh, he returned to where Callie, or Cami, was working. Maybe she could help him with this Viper.
After the door had closed behind the captain, Sharon and Tyrol stared at each other, in shock, for a moment. Then abruptly Sharon burst out laughing.
"Oh, well, I'm glad that you can find something funny about this," Tyrol said miserably. "We are so completely screwed."
"Why?" she asked, sobering slightly. "Most of the deck crews already know about us, as do most of the pilots. So, Capt. Apollo knows now, too. What's the big deal?"
"It's Apollo. That's the big deal. That guy is such a frakking prick that I'm sure he's off writing us up now, as we speak. I'll bet he just can't wait to run off and tell his daddy."
"Oh, please, Aaron, Apollo's not like that. He's not going to write us up. And even if he did, what could they really do to us? The Galactica's already massively undermanned. They need both of us."
"Yeah, well, I'm sure Apollo will find some way to get me thrown in the brig," Tyrol said sullenly.
"Why would he do that? What do you have against him?"
"He's a prick! You should have seen him when he first got here for the decommissioning ceremony. He acted like the whole thing was such a complete waste of his precious time, like he was too good for the likes of any of us. And you should have heard how disrespectful he was of the commander."
"That was before. In case you haven't noticed, things have changed. I think, Capt. Apollo's had a bit of a reality check since then. As for the stuff about the commander, from what Starbuck's hinted at, the two of them have had some issues that have nothing to do with the Galactica and are really none of anyone else's business. You know, father and son stuff. Apollo's a good guy, really. You should give him another chance."
"Why are you being so defensive of him? Should I be concerned? His last name is Adama, after all. And he is a Viper pilot, instead of a lowly deck crew chief. And he certainly fills out his flight suit nicely or so I hear," Tyrol said bitterly.
Sharon gave an exasperated sigh. "Tyrol, what is this? Where is all this coming from?"
His sudden flash of uncharacteristic jealousy left him just as quickly as it had flared up. He reached up to rub his face with both hands, as though trying to scrub the thoughts from his very skin.
"I'm sorry, Sharon," he sighed. "I don't know. I think it's the strain. It's making me edgy."
"I know, it's okay," she said, rubbing his upper arms comfortingly. "It's affecting all of us. Come on, let's go. We both have to get back to work."
The two lovers stepped cautiously back onto the hangar deck to find Apollo and Callie standing together on one of the deck crew's ladders. They had removed the top panel from the nose of Apollo's Viper and they were peering inside, deep in conversation. Sharon gave Tyrol a nudge in the ribs.
"See, I told you he wasn't writing us up."
He threw her an irritated look and said, "No, because he's too busy tearing apart one of my Vipers."
Hurrying forward, he called out, "Excuse me, but what seems to be the problem?"
Turning to face Tyrol, Lee said, "I've been having some problems with the control panel. Every now and then, I get these little shocks. It's nothing serious, but it's annoying. Obviously there's a short somewhere, but I can't find it."
"Here, let me have a look," Tyrol said, climbing the ladder.
The ladders were entirely too narrow for three people, so, without a word, the chief gently moved Callie out of his way. Throwing up her hands and rolling her eyes, she took the hint and climbed down. She went to stand beside Sharon to watch as the two men discussed the problem.
A few minutes later, dressed in her flight suit, her helmet tucked under one arm, Kara entered the hangar, ready for her patrol. Seeing Sharon and Callie standing together staring at something beyond her line of sight, she walked over to see what was going on. Joining them, she saw that they were watching chief Tyrol and Lee working on Lee's Viper. The two men were standing on one of the ladders and were bent over, working within the nose panel. As Lee reached further forward to adjust something, the range of his movement strained his flight suit slightly, tugging the fabric at the seat tighter across his firm backside, which was presented quite plainly to the three watching women.
"Oh, well, that's not an unpleasant sight," Kara commented.
"No, it's not," Sharon agreed.
"No, it's not," Callie echoed softly, her eyes rather wide.
Exchanging mischievous smiles with Sharon, Kara said, "You know, Boomer, I'm not entirely sure that she's of a high enough rank to be ogling a captain. What do you think?"
"I don't think so either. Isn't there something in the rulebooks about that?"
"Huh?" Callie gasped, turning a slightly panicked look at the two officers.
"Oh, relax, Callie, I'm just giving you flak," Kara laughed. "Trust me, any woman who didn't stop to admire that ass, is either blind or dead."
"Oh, definitely," Sharon agreed, nodding.
Kara turned to her fellow pilot and raised an eyebrow.
"My, what would Tyrol say?" she asked quietly.
"Hey, I'm just looking. There's no crime in that. And what about you?"
Kara smiled and gave a dismissive shrug. "It's like you called it. I'm just enjoying the view. Nothin' more to it."
Having located the elusive shorted circuit and made the necessary repair, Lee straightened and turned to climb down from the ladder, while Tyrol finished closing up the nose panel. Lee froze at the sight of the three women standing, staring in his direction.
"What?" he asked, suddenly suspicious.
"Nothing," Kara said, smiling smugly, while Sharon and Callie both mumbled equally evasive answers.
The two men exchanged puzzled looks.
"Women," Tyrol said with a shrug, as if this single word statement explained everything.
"So, Apollo, are we going on patrol or what?" Kara called.
"We're going, just a second."
"And men complain that women take forever to get ready," she said to the two other women.
"Hey, you're being awfully quiet over there. You haven't gone to sleep on me, have you?" Kara asked, her voice sounding slightly tinny and distorted over the wireless as she and Lee flew their patrol.
"I'm awake. Sorry, I've got a killer headache."
"Weren't you saying you had a headache yesterday?"
"Yeah, still have it."
"So, have you taken anything for it? You know, like sleep?"
"No, Ma'am, but I'll be sure to get right on that," Lee responded sarcastically.
"Smartass! … I do have to say that was pretty clever the way you sucked up to Tyrol like that."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Oh, please, you could've fixed that short on you own. You didn't need Tyrol's help. You don't get to be a captain without knowing your way around your ship. I know you've been having some problems with Tyrol. So, you appealed to his professional vanity and played the stupid pilot who doesn't know his ass from a gymbol. I think it worked. Tyrol was a lot less frosty than usual to you."
"Was I that obvious?"
"Yeah, but like I said, I think it worked. You scored some points with Callie by asking her too, by the way."
"Callie! That's her name! I need to remember that."
"Yeah, you do. I think she's got a crush on you."
"Oh, Lords, no," Lee groaned.
"What? What's wrong with Callie?"
"Nothing. She's a very nice girl, but she's what, 18, 19?"
"Oh, that's right, I forgot. You prefer older women. Well, I guess, you'll just have to tone down the Adama charm around the younger, more impressionable, female crew members."
"Yeah, right. Too bad I can't seem to charm my own squadron."
"They're just hurting, Lee. They miss Ripper. He was a popular CAG. They see you as an outsider, trying to take his place. Give them some time, they'll get over it."
"Kara, I am an outsider, trying to take his place. Time isn't going to change that. And I don't have the time to try to be their buddy. I'm their CAG. I don't need them to like me. I just need them to respect me and my authority."
"Most of them do. There're only a few troublemakers. Unfortunately, the biggest troublemaker is also quite popular."
"Yeah, Dagon. Is there something in particular that he hates about me or did I kill his dog in another life or something?"
"No, I think, it's just that he was good friends with Ripper. I think he resents you for living and not Jackson."
"Oh, that's comforting. So, you're saying that the only way I can appease him is to die? Great."
"Don't worry about Dagon. Just keep doing your job well and be yourself. The others will come around to you and as they do, Dagon will lose his influence. Just give them some time, Lee."
"There've been 23 reported incidents of inappropriate fraternization, 14 fistfights, 11 incidents of gross insubordination, and 3 attempted suicides," Col. Tigh said, reading the list of infractions to the commander. "Something is going to have to be done, soon, before all semblance of discipline falls apart."
"Compared to what's happening on the civilian ships, this is nothing," Adama said. "We all just had our worlds destroyed, our entire families killed off. It's going to take some time for everyone to assimilate that kind of grief. And everyone grieves differently. But, yes, you're right. We can't allow that to interfere with the functioning of this ship. Leave the list of names and I'll talk with the ship's counselor again and see if she has any suggestions for how to handle this."
Tigh laid the sheet of paper on the cluttered desk and said, "Speaking of handling things, how are you holding up? When's the last time you got any sleep?"
"Oh, I got a whole three hours last night," the other man said with a grin. "Don't worry about me. I'm fine. What about you?"
"I'm holding up. But I'm not the one that everyone immediately runs to when there's a problem. That would be you. Do me a favor and get some sleep."
"I'll work on that."
Pain. White-hot, searing pain, like a fire poker was being shoved between his eyes. For a moment the hangar deck seemed to tilt radically and Lee had reach out and steady himself against his Viper, waiting for the blinding pain to pass. Eventually it always did.
"Captain Apollo, are you all right, sir?"
Lee looked up to see Tyrol watching him in some concern.
"Oh, uh, yes, I'm fine. Just tired, but thank you, Chief."
"You should get some sleep, sir. You don't look very good."
"Yes, I'll do that."
Lee glanced over and was relieved to see that Kara was still occupied with her ship and had not noticed his stumble. The last thing he needed was someone else fussing over him. And she would be a lot harder to put off than Tyrol. Giving the bridge of his nose a pinch to try and distract himself from the pain, Lee moved to join her.
"That headache still bothering you?" she asked, seeing his movement.
"Yeah, but it's all right. I'm off duty now, so I can get some sleep," he said dismissively.
Glancing around, he noticed that they were the only two pilots on the hangar deck. They should have passed the two pilots who would be taking their places on the patrol, on their way in, but they hadn't. Those two pilots, at the very least, should have been on deck getting ready to launch. The starboard hangar was still being reconverted from gift shop to working hangar deck, so no one would be launching from that side. But there was no one. There were two Vipers standing by, ready to go, but no pilots.
"Aren't Saxon and Istar supposed to be out on patrol next?" Lee asked Chief Tryrol.
"Uh, yes, sir," the petty officer responded. "We've got their Vipers ready to go, but, so far, neither has shown up."
"Is that right," Lee said tightly. Turning on his heel, he headed off the hangar deck at a fast walk. Kara hurried to catch up to him.
"Well, I think someone's about to get their ass chewed out," Tyrol commented to no one in particular.
The squadron ready room was fairly crowded. It was still early evening, so many of the pilots had gathered to socialize for a few hours before heading to bed. Much of the conversation stopped as Lee and Kara entered. After a quick scan of the room, Lee determined that the two missing pilots he was seeking were not present.
"Where are Saxon and Istar?" he asked, to the room in general.
Many exchanged uncomfortable glances and shuffled about self-consciously, but no one offered an answer to the question. Lee was about to repeat himself when the hatch to the room opened and Lt. Rayna "Istar" Caspan poked her head in.
"Hey, can someone help… Oh, Captain Apollo!" she squeaked noticing her commanding officer. "Oh frak!" she added under her breath.
Rayna was a petite brunette rookie, fresh from the Viper Training Program. She looked much younger than her 24 years. Although only a few years older than her, Lee felt ancient just looking at her.
"Why aren't you out on patrol?" he asked the young woman. "And where is Lt. Carver?"
With a resigned sigh, Rayna said, "Saxon's drunk, sir. I stuck him in the showers, hoping to sober him up, but it's not working."
The skull-splitting headache that had finally begun to recede came roaring back with a vengeance. Lee closed his eyes and tried to simply concentrate on his breathing. It was taking all of his willpower to keep from becoming physically ill.
After a moment, he opened his eyes and spoke very quietly and very calmly, "Report to the hangar deck and get your ship ready for patrol. I will be sending another pilot to join you momentarily."
"Yes sir … Um, what about Saxon?"
"I will deal with Lt. Carver. You, just go."
With a quick salute, the woman ducked out the hatch, not even waiting to see if her salute had been returned. She was just grateful to be escaping. She had never seen the new CAG look so angry. He was usually pretty decent, a little cool and distant, but generally courteous. But she had seen the icy fire in his blue eyes and heard the deadly calm tone of his voice and, frankly, it had scared her a little.
Lee turned to address the remaining pilots.
"I need someone to take Carver's place on patrol, any volunteers?"
The silence was deafening.
"No, of course not," Lee said bitterly. "Fine."
He looked around at the assembled faces. With his disposition verging on homicidal and his head pounding as it was, he was in no mood to try and hunt someone else down, so that meant that someone in this room was going to have to cover the patrol. Unfortunately, most of them were rookies. He didn't like to pair up two rooks if he could help it, and definitely not when one of them was Caspan. Of the more experienced pilots present, many had just recently come from patrol or a duty shift. His eyes fell on Dagon seated in a far corner.
"Horus," Lee called out, "suit up, you're taking Saxon's place."
There was a slight pause before Dagon drawled back, "No, I don't think so."
"No, I don't think so… sir."
"Are you refusing a direct order, Lieutenant?"
"Why, yes, I am," Dagon said, standing and moving closer to the captain. "You see, sir, according to fleet regulations, every pilot is supposed to have 12 hours of rest after every 6 hours of flight time. My last patrol was 11 hours ago. So, I still have an hour of rest coming to me."
"Under normal operating conditions that would be true," Lee said, his voice still deadly calm. "But, in case it's escaped your notice, these are hardly normal operating conditions. I shouldn't have to remind you that the Galactica is desperately short of pilots. Since she was about to be decommissioned, she didn't have a full complement to begin with and that was before the Cylon attacks. Now, I know that I have flown 3 patrols in the last 36 hours, so pardon me, if I find your excuse a little lame. Everyone else is doing their part. Now it's your turn. Suck it up and get your ass down to the flight deck. Istar is waiting for you."
"Look, I don't care if you feel the need to prove you're some kind of superhero by flying all these patrols, but I'm not that stupid. Any minute, the Cylons could attack us. I want to be well rested for that fight. Sorry, but I'm not leaving the Galactica until I absolutely have to."
"Look, Lee, I'll take the patrol. I'm not tired. It's no big deal," Kara offered. She had spoken softly, but her voice still sounded harsh in the tense silence.
"No, Kara," Lee said, pointing back at her, though his eyes never left Dagon's. "You've flown your share of double patrols these past few days as well. No, Lt. Dagon will be flying this patrol."
As he had made this last statement, Lee had stepped closer to the other man, still glaring intently into his eyes. Kara felt an intuitive flutter in the pit of her stomach. She really did not like the way this conversation was progressing. Alex "Horus" Dagon was a tall, well-muscled individual. Lee Adama, on the other hand, was just on the shorter side of average and, while well toned, his build was much more compact.
The punch was delivered so fast that Kara never really saw it, she only saw Lee stagger back, one hand covering his mouth. When he took his hand away, there was blood smeared across his palm. His lip was split and more blood continued to slowly ooze down his chin. It took every once of her self-control to keep from rushing Dagon and punching his face in, but she knew that this was Lee's fight. If he was going to have any authority at all with his squadron, he was going to have to handle this on his own. But standing by and not getting involved was one of the hardest things she ever had to do.
To her amazement, Lee simply wiped the blood on the leg of his flight suit. Turning back to Dagon, he said, very quietly and very slowly, "Get down to the hangar deck, now."
The taller man gave a short bark of a laugh. His sudden agitated demeanor was a striking contrast to Lee's calm.
"Or what?" Dagon yelled. "You're going to get in my face some more? You're going to tell your daddy? As I see it, those are about your only options…sir. As you already said, the Galactica is desperate for pilots. They can't afford to throw me in the brig or ground me. And if they want to bust me down a rank, they can go right ahead. I don't care anymore! It's not like my career means anything anymore! Hell, it's not like anything means anything anymore! So, you go right ahead, Adama. Do your worst!"
If it was possible, Lee's punch was delivered even faster than Dagon's had been. It was certainly harder. Lee had thrown all of his body weight into it and the larger man went sprawling back against the table behind him, blood pouring from his nose.
Turning to address two stunned pilots standing near Dagon's unmoving form, Lee snapped, "Get him cleaned up, get him into his flight suit, and get him into his Viper. I don't care if you have to carry him. He is flying that patrol!"
"Yes, sir!" was their immediate response.
Not waiting to see if his orders were carried out, Lee turned on his heel and started toward the hatch. Finding Kara still standing in front of it, he said, "Go down to the showers and make sure that Saxon hasn't drowned himself, then pour him into bed. I'll deal with him in the morning, very early in the morning."
"Yes, sir," Kara said softly, stepping aside to allow him access to the hatch.
Lee sat on the bed in his room, messaging his temples. In the aftermath of the adrenaline rush from the brief fight, he felt shaky, nauseous, and his head was pounding worse than ever. His right hand was also throbbing quite painfully, almost, but not quite, enough to distract him from the pain in his head.
This is so not good, he thought. There is never any reason to justify striking another officer, or enlisted man, or anyone, for that matter. I've been hanging around Kara too much. She's a bad influence. Oh, who am I kidding? This is no one's fault, but my own. Dad's going to kill me, and with good reason. I behaved like a first year cadet. I have no right to call myself an officer.
He was sitting in the dark, in the small office/bedroom that housed the ship's CAG. Until very recently that had been Capt. Jackson "Ripper" Spenser, who was now dead. All of Spenser's personal effects were still there, as was his unfinished paperwork. Lee didn't have the heart to remove or touch anything. Hell, he couldn't even bring himself to sleep in the bed. At night, he just pulled the blankets off and slept on the floor. That is, when he slept at all, which wasn't often.
He knew it wasn't healthy. In fact, it was down right dangerous, as Lt. Dagon had so infuriatingly pointed out. Tired pilots are careless pilots. The Galactica couldn't afford any careless pilots right now. He knew he should get some sleep. His body was screaming for it, but every time he closed his eyes to try, he saw the faces of those who had died. His mother, her fiancé Marcus, who had always been kind and patient with Lee, old friends from the academy, his precious few former lovers, and his former shipmates on the Solaria, the ship that, if not for his father's unwelcome interference, he would have gone down with. It was their faces that haunted him the most. He should have been there, with them. If he had, perhaps… He knew, consciously, that it was ridiculous to think that his presence alone could have made a difference, but subconsciously, his mind still played those obsessive games of what-if.
Survivor's guilt. Even recognizing it for what it was, did not prevent his mind from traveling down those same well-worn paths. Lee did not handle grief well. He had learned that painful lesson with Zac's death. As a Colonial officer, it had been drilled into him that he was to never give up, never surrender. Now he was expected to simply let go of Zac and all the others? It was a mental shift he didn't seem capable of making.
Anger was such an easier emotion to deal with than acceptance. It was one that he was well acquainted with and his father had always been the easiest target for that emotion. Perhaps because his father had never fought back, had never even tried to defend himself against it. He had always just taken Lee's anger with silent acceptance. Didn't that seem to imply a guilty conscience?
So, when Zac had died Lee had blamed his father. Despite the fact that he knew the older Adama was hurting just as much as everyone else and had certainly not intended for his youngest son to die, it had just been so much easier to get angry. And anger was so much easier to sustain when it had a target to focus on. And it was so much the better when that target was a compliant and stationary one.
But now, in the wake of the Cylon attacks, Zac's death seemed rather insignificant. It was just one more source of pain amongst all the other billions. And Lee couldn't blame his father for those deaths, no matter how much he might want to try. And he realized that he really didn't want to try. He didn't want to be angry with his father anymore. It was hard to hate the man when he was all the family Lee had left. He was tired of being angry. He had spent two years of his life being angry and he was just so, so very tired…
He didn't remember falling asleep, but he must have, because when the knock on his door came, he bolted upright and back to full awareness from a prone position on the bed. He didn't remember lying down either.
"Come in," he called out, trying to calm his racing heart and think through the pounding in his head.
The hatch swung open and light and noise from the pilots' general quarters beyond flooded into the room. Kara stepped inside hesitantly.
"Lee? Can I turn the light on?" she asked.
"Yeah, go ahead."
With the harsh glare of the overhead lights on, Kara didn't like what she saw. She had obviously woken Lee from a deep sleep, which she knew quite well he had gotten precious little of these past few days. He looked like death warmed over. He was still in his flight suit, which was not the most comfortable garment ever designed, his short, dark hair was rumpled and there was still dried blood on his lower lip, which was slightly swollen and beginning to bruise.
"Uh, I'm sorry I woke you up," she said. "But the commander wants to see you in his quarters."
"He knows already?"
"You know, I've suspected that the man is psychic for years now. But, then again, in this instance, there were quite a few people on the flight deck when Crush and Speed dragged Horus down there. By the way, they think you might have broken his nose."
Oh, fabulous, Lee thought wryly, that's the way to endear yourself to your squadron, physically abuse them. What the hell, if you can't join them, beat them, literally.
"Thanks, Kara. I guess I'd better get going then. Wouldn't want to keep the Old Man waiting for his chance to ream me out," Lee said, standing and starting towards the door.
"Uh, you might want to get cleaned up first," she suggested as he moved to pass her. "At least wash the blood off your face."
"It's a little late to try and hide the evidence now, don't you think? Besides, I'm too tired. I just want to get this over with."
Lee stood rigidly at attention in front of the commander's desk. He hadn't been this nervous about seeing his father since the time he had gotten suspended from his secondary school for fighting. He had discovered that two older, larger, boys had been harassing Zac and he had dealt with them. Unfortunately he had gotten caught doing so. His father had been furious. It was one of the few times that Adama had ever yelled at his eldest son. Of course, Lee had not mentioned Zac's situation in connection with the fight, not wishing to embarrass his brother.
Now, William Adama sat behind his cluttered desk, reading a report and, for the moment, ignoring his son and CAG. Col. Tigh sat in the background, at the foot of the commander's bed. The executive officer was smirking slightly, evidently finding some hidden amusement with the tableau before him.
After several long minutes, Adama looked up and said, "At ease, Captain."
Lee gratefully shifted to a parade rest stance; feet set wide, hands clasped at the small of his back. He focused his eyes at a spot on the far wall, an inch or two above the top of his father's head. Adama leaned back in his chair, the fingers of both hands pressed together in front of his chest, and tried to regard the young man in front of him as dispassionately and objectively as he could.
"Why don't you tell me what happened in the squadron ready room earlier this evening, Captain."
"Yes sir. It's quite simple, really. I gave Lt. Dagon an order. He refused to obey that order. I struck him."
"That's it? There's nothing more you'd like to tell me?"
"What happened to your lip? Cut yourself shaving, did you?"
"Uh, no sir, but that was no excuse for my behavior. I take full responsibility f-."
"Yes, you take full responsibility for your actions," Col. Tigh interrupted. "Of course, you do. You're an Adama. Except that no one is asking you to fall on your sword, Captain."
"I think what Saul is trying to say is, 'relax, Lee, you're not in any trouble.' Obviously, this isn't a formal XO's mast," Adama said with a smile.
"But I struck a fellow officer…"
"Who was being grossly insubordinate and hit you first. Frankly, considering the strain we're all under, I can't honestly say that I wouldn't have done the same thing. I didn't bust Kara down for striking a superior officer. I'm certainly not going to bust you for striking a junior, and insubordinate, one. No, I'm afraid that not all of the old rules are going to apply anymore. We're just going to have to deal with things as they come. Now, as to Lt. Dagon, I will deal with him personally."
"There is something else… Tell me, Captain; is it true that you have flown 3 patrols in the last 36 hours?"
"… Yes sir."
Adama leaned forward to rest his elbows on the desk and gaze intently at his son over the top of his glasses.
"That stops, now," he said sternly. "Do I make myself clear? I don't want careless pilots."
"And let's get something else clear right now, Captain. Just because I let this incident slide this time, let's not go making a habit of brawling in the ready room. Please, feel free to pass that on to Lt. Thrace, as well."
"Yes, sir," Lee said, relief flooding his body.
"Now, as long as I have you here, I want to talk to you about the patrols. I have some ideas…"
The commander continued talking, but Lee wasn't really listening anymore. The words washed over him, but had ceased to have any coherent meaning. He had been so prepared for a confrontation with his father, something emotionally charged and potentially messy, but there had been nothing. He had gotten through it with nothing more than a mild reprimand for overtaxing himself. Standing there, he felt weak-kneed and shaken. No, not shaken, but shaking, he corrected himself as he realized that his entire body was trembling visibly.
He was suddenly incredibly cold and he could not stop his body from shivering. He hugged his arms around himself in an attempt to get warm and stop the shakes, but it didn't help. He glanced up to find his father standing very close and looking very concerned.
"Lee, are you alright?"
He could hear his father's words, but they were faint, as if he was hearing them from a great distance. He was also aware that his father was grasping his shoulders, but Lee only felt it as a slight pressure. He wanted to speak, to tell his father that he was okay, but he couldn't seem to coordinate his body enough to form the words.
It was as if his mind was slowly detaching itself from his body. Darkness was starting to creep into the edges of his vision, rapidly tunneling it down to nothing. He felt a vague sense of disorientation, then nothing at all...
To be continued...